Sunday, February 20, 2005

Study Raises Concerns About Shampoo Safety
Occupational Exposure to Additive Is Bigger Worry, Researcher Says

By Salynn Boyles

Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD
on Sunday, December 05, 2004
WebMD Medical News

Dec. 5, 2004 -- New research is raising concerns about the safety of a
preservative that is commonly found in shampoos and other commercially
available cosmetics. But cosmetics industry officials say the additive has
been proven safe over years of use.

In laboratory studies, the bacteria-killing agent methylisothiazolinone
(MIT) was shown to restrict the growth of immature rat nerve cells. Studies
in live animals are needed to confirm the findings. But researchers say the
early test tube evidence suggests that prolonged exposure to MIT, or
exposure to the chemical at high concentrations, could damage the nervous

The research was presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the American
Society for Cell Biology in Washington D.C.

Fetal Development a Concern

The biggest potential concern, says lead researcher Elias Aizenman, PhD, of
the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, is for the fetuses of
pregnant women exposed to high doses of MIT on the job. The agent is widely
used in industrial settings.

"If the data that I am seeing does translate into some sort of
neurodevelopmental problem in people, then the risk to the developing fetus
of a woman who is exposed to this agent in [its concentrated form] may be
significant," Aizenman tells WebMD.

Another concern is that occupational exposure or routine use of commercial
products that contain MIT could trigger nerve-damaging diseases such as
Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. Again, Aizenman is quick to point out that there
is no direct evidence linking MIT to these disorders. But he adds that live
animal studies are needed to clarify the risk.

"It is very difficult to find shampoos and conditioners that do not contain
MIT, and it is in many other cosmetics, as well," he says. "I can't tell you
that using shampoo is unsafe, but I can't tell you it is safe, either."

Cosmetics Industry Responds

A statement issued Friday by the nation's largest cosmetics industry trade
group called the University of Pittsburgh research "meaningless for safety
evaluation purposes."

A Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association spokesperson pointed out
that the level of MIT in shampoos and other commercial products is extremely

"The experiments conducted with (MIT) on extracted rat nerve cells in
laboratory containers do not remotely resemble the possible consumer
exposure to this preservative," the CTFA statement says.

Aizenman says he became aware of MIT while researching the mechanisms
associated with the death of brain cells. He found that the agent activated
a novel pathway that promoted cell death in the laboratory setting, and
showed in earlier work that adult rat brain cells died when exposed for
short periods to MIT at high concentrations.

In their latest work, Aizenman and colleagues exposed immature, developing
rat brain cells to very low concentrations of MIT -- roughly 1/100 of the
dose used in the previous study. Low-level exposure for 18 hours was found
to slow down cell growth. The higher the dose the brain cells were exposed
to, the more effect there was.

Aizenman acknowledges that it is "a big leap" to suggest that MIT exposure
in the womb could play a role in the rise of developmental disabilities in
children. But he adds that the questions raised by his research need to be

"I would caution that based on our data, there very well could be
neurodevelopmental consequences from MIT," he notes. "Clearly, more study is
needed, with both scientists and government regulators equally engaged."
posted by Heather on 4:31 PM 4 comments

Yeah, and it is 100% certain that everyone that eats bananas is going to die...

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